November 2004

'You weak Victorian'

Nick Hoult and Emma John
Dean Jones, Ravi Shastri, Greg Matthews and Bob Simpson look back on the tied Test of 1986

Dean Jones: the tied Test was his "Mount Everest of cricket" © Getty Images

In 110 years of Test cricket, the Australia-West Indies game at Brisbane in 1960-61 had been, famously, the only tied Test. But, in 1986, Australia, under new coach Bobby Simpson and India, fresh from a 2-0 win in England, were to prove so well matched that, at the finish in Madras, the players did not even know the result

When Australia arrived in India they had not won a Test series for over two years. Coach Bobby Simpson and captain Allan Border were intent on reversing their fortunes. India were on the rise after a series win in England.

Bobby Simpson (Australia coach) It was my first time away with the team and I was very keen to get them winning again. We set out to win the first Test as it was important we established a winning habit.

Dean Jones Allan Border had played 70 Test matches and I think the next best was seven. It was a very inexperienced team. Allan Border laid standards down on dress, preparation, everything.

The temperature in Madras was around 40 degrees C with 80% humidity.

Simpson They were the worst conditions I've ever known a Test match to be played in. The ground was very bare and dusty. There was also a canal running by the side of the ground and when the wind blew the wrong way the stench was outrageous.

Greg Matthews I used to wear a hankie around my face and nose because the smell from the canal would come in and used to make me cry. The stadium was just a concrete bowl and radiated heat.

"When I came off the ground they put me in an ice bath. When I got out of the bath I completely passed out and woke up in the hospital at one o'clock in the morning"
Dean Jones

Border won a crucial toss on a good pitch and Australia got off to a great start, with David Boon making 122. But it was the performance of Dean Jones, in his first Test for three years, that was the cornerstone of the innings.

Simpson I have not seen a braver innings that Dean's. He was running on adrenalin. During breaks we would have one bloke waiting to take off his pads and another would strip him and put him in an ice bath just to try and revitalise him. It was immensely courageous.

Matthews Dean's eyes were sunk back in his head and he was playing by memory. I felt that the real hero was Ray Bright. He scored 30 as nightwatchman before nearly collapsing halfway back to the pavilion when he was out. His toes were dragging on the ground as he walked off and I couldn't help but think this poor bloke has got to go out and bowl as well.

Jones I was a mess. On about 170, I wanted to go off because I was stopping the game every over to be sick. And Allan Border said "You weak Victorian. I want a tough Australian out there. I want a Queenslander." So I stayed. My last hundred I got in 66 balls because I couldn't run at all. I said `block, block, I'm going to slog this for four.' Then I'd block until I had enough energy for another go.

Jones was hospitalised with exhaustion after his 210.

Jones When I came off the ground they put me in an ice bath. People were talking to me, and I was quite coherent, I thought I was OK. Then when I got out of the bath I completely passed out and woke up in the hospital at one o'clock in the morning.

With Border making 106 Australia could declare on 574. India lost two early wickets but rallied through their captain Kapil Dev.

Greg Matthews makes headlines for taking the wicket that tied the Test © The Age

Matthews Ray Bright was not young and fit like Dean Jones. He got the 12th man to ask AB if he needed him in the field after he had gone off with exhaustion. AB told him to "get his arse out here". When he came out I would have started crying if I'd had any moisture left. I was real stoked and it gave me a big lift. I then asked for a jumper to bowl in. I wanted to show we could take it and I wore that jumper for the rest of the session. I knew I was in the zone. I was swearing at AB if he tried to take me off. I know my bowling record isn't great but I knew that match was mine.

Matthews took 5 for 103, his first five-for in Test cricket, as India were dismissed for 397. Jones batted again in the second innings and Border declared overnight to set India 348 for victory.

Matthews The only way they were going to win was if they raced out of the blocks. They took 16 off the first over.

Ravi Shastri The last day started with about 10,000 fans in the ground. By the end there were 50,000. We were always going to go for it. When Kapil got out in the second innings I made sure that I didn't pass him on my way to the middle because I did not want him to say to me that we were no longer going for it. I really felt we could do it. I hit my first ball to the boundary and AB knew it was game on.

Simpson The real amazing performance was by Greg Matthews. He bowled unchanged for the whole day. He had a little stool on the boundary which he would sit on between overs. We always made sure he was fielding in the shade as well.

By tea India were 193 for 2 and needed 155 from 30 overs. They were cruising towards victory when they lost three wickets for 13 runs.

Shastri The last two hours were simply fascinating. The players were getting very heated and the umpires had to calm us down. The over rate dropped to a bare minimum. I remember the umpires telling AB to get on with it.

"I always say Steve Waugh cost us that Test. His misfield allowed Ravi to get two off the first ball of that over"
Greg Matthews

Last man Maninder Singh and Shastri needed four from the final over, bowled by Matthews.

Matthews I always say Steve Waugh cost us that Test. His misfield allowed Ravi to get two off the first ball of that over. He then settled for a single next ball and that got Maninder on strike with one needed. He went back and across to one and it hit him on the back leg bang in front of middle.

Shastri I remember putting my hands up and shouting no for a single. AB raced around to get the ball and didn't even appeal. Then I turned round and saw the umpire's finger go up.

Jones There's two scoreboards at Madras, one said we were in front by one, and one said scores were level. And when the wicket was given, we were running off the ground and I thought it was a draw. Then we got told by Bob Simpson, who had played in the first tied Test, "No, it's a tie." And we just said, "Is that good?"

Matthews I remember two things. One, is that most of the lads didn't realise it was a tied Test and the other is packing my kit up next to AB. He had the match ball in his left hand and he said, "You've earned this."

Jones The bonding that we had between the two teams was fantastic after that. We flew that night to Hyderabad and when we walked into the hotel there were 30 waiters, all with a tray and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. We hadn't had a drink in a month and the manager of the hotel says, "Free champagne for everyone!" Both teams celebrated like you wouldn't believe. Next morning a bill was put under our Australian cricket manager's room for $13,500. We only got paid $9,000 for the tour!

The rest of the series failed to live up to the Madras Test with two rain affected draws. But Australia had turned a corner.

Simpson We got a lot out of that tour. The Marsh/Boon opening combination really worked for us in the future and we had a core of players that we could build on. The match set Dean's career going. He was a great talent but people were wondering whether he was a bit touchy as far as his cricket was concerned.

Jones I think this particular Test was the renaissance of Australian cricket. And I personally started to believe I was good enough to play at that level and be on the same ground as Sunny Gavaskar and co. It was my Mount Everest of cricket. Even to this day I have a psychological problem that if it's 36 or 37 degrees my body starts to shake.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jonathan_E on September 20, 2016, 16:33 GMT

    Perhaps Jones had (a) forgotten that India had only one wicket left, and (b) miscounted the number of balls in the over and thought that the second-last ball was the last one - and thus thought it was a draw with India having one wicket left and 1 or 2 runs left to get, but no more time for either to happen, after Matthews' dismissal of Maninder?

  • pwcricket on September 20, 2016, 15:44 GMT

    Search back through the archives and you can find some fascinating interviews and articles, as well as footage from that Test. From what Border has said in the past, it seems it is probable there was an inside edge onto pad for the lbw. Bizarrely, Maninder is on record as saying that he believes the umpire was proving himself as not being biased in favour of India by giving the LBW decision. More likely I suspect the umpire gave what he thought was the correct decision, although his judgement might have been clouded in the heat of the moment. Sounds like it was a true classic, a bit of a typical sub continent slow burner but it was not well reported in England at the time, so my memory and knowledge of it is shamefully poor for someone who calls himself a cricket buff. Shastri has said in interview he thinks his actions would have led to a lengthy ban these days. Probably the case for others who played as well, from what I've read and heard.

  •   Gulu Ezekiel on September 20, 2016, 13:28 GMT

    Fortunate to witness every ball from the press box. The conditions indeed were unbearable even up there.

  • raki101 on September 20, 2016, 12:30 GMT

    @EdwinD India Dind't refuse to chase that target of 126, It rained and Aussie umpires called of the Game. India Would have one the first series in Australia in 85-86. Regarding this test match, it was just a classic test match. I was like 11 years old, still remember everything nothing was happening for the first 4 days, Deano if I remember correctly Puked on the pitch when he scored his double. But the match turned interesting when border declared on the last day. The last session was like a one day game of the old era's 5 on over needed and after Gavaskar departed for 90 odd the match really go interesting. Last over Shastri should have never given the strike to maninder. The man could not bat for his Life. I am not sure maninder was out or not but now it is in the history books.

  • EdwinD on September 19, 2016, 9:54 GMT

    Wonder if the Indian team's decision to go for the win was effected by a Test in the previous year in Australia, when they refused to chase a target of 126 in 30 overs!

    Check Steve Waugh's debut Test for the scorecard....

  • InsideHedge on September 18, 2016, 18:06 GMT

    Great, historic game, we need more recollections from that game. Both the BCCI and CA should set up a reunion event, I wonder if they did that in 2011 when 25 years were up. Some won't be with us when the 50th anniv comes around.

    BTW, when ppl talk about "The Greatest Test", it always makes me a tad annoyed. Games like this one are forgotten all too easily. There's too many great Tests for one particular one to be declared "The Greatest Test". Let us celebrate a great game regardless of the two teams and the venue. This one was a modern classic.

  • JohnYelton on September 18, 2016, 14:49 GMT

    Why did Jones think it was a draw? If one scoreboard said they were ahead and the other said that they were level it was either a win or a tie. It doesn't take a cricket expert to know what a tie is.

    I understand that Border later said he regretted the quip to Jones about needing a true Australian. The conditions could have led to a loss of life - nothing to joke about.

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